Master Maker

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Some kind of special award needs to go to Jeri Ellsworth for versatility alone. I thinks she started out by building race cars, then got into PC repair and construction. She wowed people with her innovations in game hardware, but I like her best for her explorations of lo-fi electronics, particularly her experiments in a DIY components, such as transistors and capacitors. These Flickr photos might give you some idea of what she’s up to. I think my admiration for her is as much for her skills as an educator and an inspirational figure. She certainly wants to make me play with relays and make my own capacitors. 

The Pantheon

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Perhaps it’s wrong to elevate certain makers above others. It runs counter to my quote about making Druids. That is, you don’t make Druids by naming  A Druid-of-the-Year. But I do want to remember some outstanding accomplishments. One of the first people that vomes to mind was Xiaoji Chen, who’s mostly been unrecognized and works for MS, so her accomplishments are mostly invisible now. I even forgot what her name was the other day, so I decided that I better start listing some of these people (like Jerri Ellsworth. I’m always forgetting Jerri Ellsworth’s name). So here’s Xiaoji Chen’s page on computer linkages. A physical device to duplicate functions of logic gates. 

Just Sketching

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LeicesterSquareSketchI won’t spend anytime apologizing for this sketch. I took a wonderful workshop yesterday with Adebanji Alade, who is a wonderful evangelist for drawing every day. I’m more sure that when I’m sketching, that I know that it’s just sketching. Sketching shows your problems as well as your practice and your skills, and perhaps that is what makes sketching so powerful.

The above sketch represents the first of many everyday sketches, I hope.

In thinking about Cogtoys, I know that sketching is a powerful tool to connect concepts to reality. I hope to continue to draw landscapes and objects and figures and gestures. At this point, I can only get better. So I will continue to sketch and, I hope, to share the sketches. 

Upcoming Workshop

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PaintwithPaper

Booking workshops is not easy, so it helps to have someone rooting for you. Many thanks to Laura at the Abbey Community Centre for supporting the cause. 

I must say I enjoyed making my robotic Matisse with Inkscape.

Volvelle Possibilities

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Volvelles

Volvelle Possibilities

Just a little doodle to set me thinking. Even limiting myself to concentric circles for the most part, I kept coming up with possibilities for using Volvelles. I started with the idea of surveying what could be done with a circle and a pivot. Information can be obscured, indicated, or illuminated with a Volvelle. The second circle below could be a changing face. I’m not sure how you illustrate or derive a function with such a thing. But, like I say, “just a little doodle.” Transparent colored circles could illustrate combinations and layered traces could illustrate circuits. The final Volvelle on the bottom right plays with the idea of a spiral around a pivot, that is a turntable. Is the needle on the top or the bottom? Is there a needle guide? Maybe musicians could use them to demonstrate a musical passage. Just run an amplifying stylus through the grooves and you have yourselves a tune.

The Chuckram Board

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The Chuckrum Board is a lovely device from India used for counting coins. 

Chuckrum (Chuckram) Board from the Science Museum in London

Chuckrum (Chuckram) Board from the Science Museum in London

From The Land of Charity: A Descriptive Account of Travancore and Its People by Samuel Mateer:

Chuckrams being so small and globose are exceedingly troublesome to count or handle. They slip out of the fingers and run over the floor, and are only discovered again with difficulty. £1,000 pounds sterling amounts to 28,500 chuckrams, weighing 24 pounds avoirdupois, and hours would be wasted in reckoning this small amount of coins. They are therefore measured, or counted, by means of a “chuckram board” — a small, square, wooden plate with holes the exact size and depth of a chuckram, drilled in regular rows on its surface . . . a small handful of coins is thrown on the board, and it is shaken gently from side to side, so as to cause a single chuckram to fall into each cavity, and the surplus, if any, is swept off the board. 

Sectors

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TheSector

From the Science Museum:

Example of how a sector is used

Suppose you want to divide a line that is six inches long into five equal parts. Measure off six inches with dividers, and open the sector until 5 and 5 on the two linear scales is six inches. By the principle of similar triangles the distance between 1 and 1 on the linear scales is then one fifth of the distance between 5 and 5. Measure the distance 1 to 1 with the dividers and the five equal lengths can then be marked off on the original six inch line.

I wrote an Instructable for the sector. By using the principle of similar triangles, the Pythagorean Theorem, or trigonometric tables, you could play with these babies for hours. The only problem is that dividers get a little stabby. I’m wondering if a bit of graduated wire might be a more useful partner for the sector.